Who Are You Going to Fire?

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MOST SHOPS ARE SEARCHING for ways to reduce expenses. If a department is experiencing a substantial downturn in customer traffic, it may be necessary to thin the ranks — but don't shoot yourself in the foot in the process. The objective is to keep your top performers so you can enjoy sweet success and get rid of the stinkers that are fouling up the place. Here's a list of 10 traits that identify bad technician performance:

  • The personal tool collection they own is so sparse that they often borrow tools from other techs
  • Their work area is a mess, with tools and parts lying all over. The condition of their work area is so bad you keep customers away to avoid embarrassment
  • Tardiness or nonapproved absences occur more than twice per month
  • Use offensive language around staff and/or customers, and, when frustrated, react by yelling and/or throwing things
  • Exhibit little interest in personal improvement. For example, they don't participate in factory-training programs or in shop meetings or events
  • Have more than two comebacks per month, and argue about correcting their mistakes
  • Damage shop-owned tools and equipment or don't return them to the proper storage area
  • Efficiency rating in the last six months is flat or getting worse
  • Damage customer vehicles because they don't use protective equipment or they're careless or clumsy
  • Disagree with management and/or store policies and spread ill will by relating this to staff and/or customers

Now, I'm not saying you should fire anyone that exhibits a few of these bad traits. Nobody is perfect, and anyone can have a bad month. In truth, I'm an advocate for the hard-working technicians out there who, in my opinion, earn too little for the specialized work they do.

Let's reverse our focus. While reviewing the performance of the technicians in your store, also look for good behavior and reward it. Our business has gone through downturns before, and one thing has been a constant: The shops with excellent service departments survive and even thrive through the tough times.

"Take care of the best and flush the rest." When you see technicians doing good things, reward them with a compliment and retain them by providing interesting and challenging work to perform. Also, provide a path for continuing improvement by enrolling them in factory training. Lastly, make sure they're compensated fairly. Never give the same raise to all technicians in the store. The stinkers will have no motivation to improve, and your top performers will feel unappreciated.

Make several trips through service over the next couple of weeks and interview your service managers and writers to get the inside scoop. Be on the lookout for both good and bad behavior. Ten traits that the best technicians exhibit are listed in the box on the right.

Dave Koshollek teaches sales and service classes for dealers. Contact him at dakoenterprises@cs.com, or via editors@dealernews.com.